KENT — The Kent Memorial Library, which has moved to a temporary location until mid-February, recently hosted renowned sculptor Peter Woytuk for a special appearance in the Kent town hall on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The standing room only crowd was obviously not fazed by the chilly weather.
After taking the lectern, Woytuk immediately turned the mike over to Virginia Bush Suttman, who he termed the “historian.” She talked about Jacques Kaplan, a French designer famous for his creation of “fun furs” and known locally as a pioneering art dealer and gallery owner in Kent; Philippe Staib, who opened galleries of contemporary sculpture in New York City and Kent, and Suttman’s late husband Paul Suttman, a sculptor best known for impressionistic figurative works in bronze. Virginia Suttman said these three artists, and Peter Woytuk, were responsible for the town of Kent becoming a thriving art center.
When Woytuk took front stage, he acknowledged that he was still jet-lagged from a trip to Dubai, and encouraged the audience to ask him questions. This proved to be very popular, and his “talk” quickly segued into a Q&A session with him often stopping mid-sentence to acknowledge a raised hand. Inquiries ran the gamut from “What’s the difference between ravens and crows?” (Answer: Ravens are larger and smarter than crows, but he likes the coarseness and raucous qualities of both blackbirds, one of his favorite sculptural motifs.) to “What are you working on now?” (Answer: After creating four life-size bronze elephants weighing 5,000 pounds each for the entrance to the North Carolina Zoo, the world’s largest natural habitat zoo, which required 100 people to create and transport on a boat from Shanghai (his most herculean effort to date), he is currently working on something more lighthearted — large scale popcorn in bronze.)
Audience member Nancy Yurgeles said about Woytuk, “He seems humble, so genuine and sincere.” During the talk, she jokingly asked him to add a piece of sculpture to Torrington Middle School’s Sculpture Garden, a project by the non-profit arts organization Artwell, Inc.